Sonja, Austin, Taylor and Chris Noskowiak and Cayce Crews

Friday, December 11, 2009

First 3 days of "Our House Fire"

I've always wanted to create a blog for our family. With so much that's been going on in the past 5-6 years it would have been nice to come here and write on it and to share the information with others.

I'll be backing up later to fill in everyone as to just what we have dealt with in the past few years. For now, I am going to use this blog as a means to update everyone on the fire. Please forgive me if I do not respond to each of you right away. I will try my best to in between cleaning.

So here goes.....
On Friday, Nov.27th, 2009 our family left for Myrtle Beach, SC. We are members of which is a professional bartering company. We had a nice 2 room suite w/ jacuzzi in our room which we got on barter. My parents came and got themselves a room there at the Best Western as well.

We had not been there but long enough to settle in our room and use the Jacuzzi. We had bed clothes on and I was trying my best to look at what was going on for Friday night on the Quilting and Needlework boards on HGTV cause each Friday night they were doing a PJ party and a new sew along project was being presented. I said to Chris, "Of all the times we have been on vacation, I am the most relaxed tonight". I was fighting sleep at this time. Approximately 15-20 minutes later, my cell phone rung. It was my brothers g/friend. She was screaming to me, "Your house is on fire"!!! I think at this point I went in shock.... I didn't know if I wanted to get in the car and race home in my bed clothes or stop and put some clothes on.

We managed to all get dressed really quickly.. not even taking note that we might need a change of clothes, we headed back home leaving our belongings in MB, 3 hours away from home. We spoke with the fire chief over the phone a few times. It was a long ride home.

We arrived to a house that looked fine on the outside but upon entering, all doubt that this could have happened to my house was pretty much gone. Coming in the back door, the washer and dryer had been removed. There had been a fire up the wall behind the dryer and that wall had burned quite a bit. Smoke filled the air in the house and it smelled of burnt wiring. On into the hall was a huge hole where I'm sure the firemen stuck a hose to get the fire out. Into my sons room on the right was the awful site. Big hole in the floor, melted TV, DVD, Monitor for his pc..... all walls looked like they had melted in various places.... and his closet is what went up in smoke. In the closet held some of my most precious things in the house. I had some of the kids baby clothes, blankets, bumper pads to Austins Crib... you know, the kinds of things you never want to lose cause you can't replace them. Not only that, in the closet was a chest of drawers which was antique. My grandmother whom I loved so much gave that to me for Austin. It was burned as well. My oldest sons cap and gown and some clothes were in there as well. I think my sister may have gotten the cap and gown and washed it. I am not sure it was able to be saved. Austin lost his clothes and so much more in that room.

Walking through with a flashlight is NOTHING like seeing this in the daylight. So many things run through your mind, wondering what DID you lose in your fire? At the moment you can't think of much of anything specific cause you are in such a state of shock. But I have to be honest about a few things. First.... after I seen the damage I felt as though I could last long enough with the smoke in there to get my quilting fabrics out. Yes.... I did... I begged my family to at least quickly make boxes so I could get the fabrics into a box and get them out quickly as my thinking was, "The longer they sit, the worse the smell is gonna be". I sadly took away a few blocks from the table in the sewing room that I had made for someone who is putting together a few quilts for someone who had lost a son and grandchild all at one time recently. When I looked at the blocks, although they were smoke filled.... they reminded me how fortunate that we are that we are alive and my son was not in the room. I took away four more blocks that I had just finished. These were Red, White and Blue. These were done for a great friend who is doing a quilt for a military soldier which soon as he got to IRAQ had to shoot someone. Reminded me of the sorrow he must feel and what HE is going through over there. So when I think of these things, my problems seem so small. I intend on trying to save these blocks and get them to the quilt makers so they can get them done.

After getting the fabric out the house, we slept at my moms house and got up the next morning to go access the damages. As I said before, looking at the house in the daytime is a whole lot different than at night. Looking at my sons ruined room, ruined trophies he worked so hard for from a little tot on up.... them melted and leaning, pictures melted and scrunched together.... complete MESS... was such a site!!!! We still aren't allowed into his room cause of the damaged flooring so we don't know how much more he lost.... we know his Nintendo 64 was damaged along with possibly some games. Still.. as bad as it looks..... we know we are blessed!!! He could have been in that room and we aren't sure he would have made it.

Before I get into the details of losses etc... Let me make clear to you about our insurance. I'll have to go back in time a little. I'm going to make a long story short here as it's too much to get in to. About the year 2000... our insurance company imposed flood insurance on us. We were not in a flood zone and we kept telling them this. They raised the amount of our house payment to reflect flood damage insurance that they expected us to pay. It must have taken us 6 or more mos. to get proof we were not in a flood zone and get the paperwork to prove it and make them stop charging us. While this was going on we got behind in our mortgage payments cause the payment was too high. They forced us into bankruptcy. Chapter 13 was filed. If you are ever late on a payment they can take your home, so beware if you are ever thinking about doing it. I would have let the house go then but the property is under mortgage as well and it's family owned land that my dad gave to me, so that wasn't an option. During bankruptcy, the mortgage company imposed "Forced Place Insurance" on us. This insurance is the insurance the mortgage company puts on their property to secure it in case of fire or damage. It's for their benefit only and protects the structure of the home only. While in Bankruptcy, they make you keep this insurance on it and it's added into your payment through an escrow account. They also add in county taxes in the escrow to make sure you don't fail to pay the taxes on it. In 2003 my husband was diagnosed with an incurable/inoperable cancer. (more on that later) and during this time things were rough trying to take care of him and my family. So I ended up in Bankruptcy for the second time. During this time, something happened that caused us to be a little late and they did a work out agreement. Had they told us this before we would have never went in bankruptcy to begin with. Another thing to take note of.... original mortgage payment was 581.00 a month, during bankruptcy it went to 700 and something. The workout agreement caused us to make payments of 1540.00 for 18mos. I'd love for someone to try to explain to me how we did that when we couldn't even pay the extra for the insurance which caused this mess? I can only say that G-d made a way!!! Ok, just a little about the insurance company and told you that to say this.... The same insurance had been kept on the house until they let us change it. We completed the "Work Out" agreement and paid that off. Then later came the leaky roof and flood damaged bathroom. Due to those two things we decided to wait till the claims were made, the house was fixed so we COULD get insurance. I'm sure no-one would have wrote a policy on my house with damage to it. We had planned to get our own policy once the claims were satisfied
but the house burned before we could get our own, so we are stuck with the Forced Placed Insurance which will benefit the mortgage company only.

 Also on Saturday (day after fire) Fire Restoration Company come out and talk to us and assess the damages so they could estimate how much it was gonna cost for them to do the cleaning to the structure of the house. Estimated cost to clean the structure was 14,900.00. This would be paid by the insurance company for cleaning all the smoke out of the house. Includes walls and floors. NO contents that belonged to us would be cleaned by them as it wasn't our policy.

We went back to Myrtle Beach and stayed until Monday morning as we weren't going to get anything done until Monday anyway.  We had to make a stop in Charleston to see Chris' oncologist for an appointment but we got finished and out of there quick enough to make it home and talk to the American Red Cross. They were very nice and helpful. Because we didn't have insurance, they provided us with 3 nights stay at a local hotel, gave us 115.00 in a debit card to help with food, vouchers for each one of us to use at Goodwill for 3 sets of clothes each and a food voucher to turn in to get assistance from food banks at area churches.

We stayed the 3 nights in the hotel and ate our meals at my parents house. During the 3 days we had a visit from the insurance inspector as well. He ruled the house fire to have started from under the house. He said the wiring had a breakage somewhere and it shortened out, sending fire in one direction, to the dryer and the other, to my sons room. It would appear it was right in the middle where the house was put together. (we will be getting an electrician ourselves to make sure this wasn't a manufacturers problem when they did the wiring at the factory). This will have to be determined for two reasons. One- in case the manufacturer or setup crew was at fault for our fire. Two- so we will know if its possible the rest of the wiring could be bad as well, as this will cause a fear once we are back in the place.

The insurance adjuster came to assess the damage as well. He took pictures and got measurements etc...  He thought the house could be fixed.

<"I'm planning to write a book, can you tell"?>


  1. your comments are showing...
    we'll get this figured out.

  2. I don't know how I found your site...happened to see it on the HGTV board.

    My heart goes out to you and your family. Are you back in your home yet?

    I read you did get our fabric out...were you able to save most of it?

    The GOOD thing is that no one was hurt as you weren't home...what a blessing!

    PM me on the board when you can find time.

    Hugs, Devonne


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